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Where Do We Go For The Best Seafood In Massachusetts?

Crab Avocado Toast from Saltie Girl in Boston's Back Bay
Crab Avocado Toast from Saltie Girl in Boston's Back Bay
Courtesy of Saltie Girl

In truth, not everyone is a fan of New England in the winter but, as the days lengthen and the light lingers, there’s a palpable shift in the collective mood, and it begins to feel like anything is possible. The magic of summer here, perfected by miles of beautiful coastline, pristine beaches, and abundant green forests, gives way to picnics by the water, hikes through historic parks, harbor-island hopping, and strolls along the esplanade. Barbecues become an everyday occurrence and good ice cream is easy to come by, but where’s the best seafood in town? We turned to the WGBH community for advice; after all nothing says New England like fresh seafood!

(left): Alive & Kicking exterior with menu (right): lobster sandwich on scali bread
(left): Alive & Kicking exterior with menu (right): lobster sandwich on scali bread
Courtesy of Alive & Kicking Lobsters

Alive & Kicking Seafood

It's not a competition or anything but, ding, ding ding! Possibly the winner with three votes, is Alive and Kicking Seafood in Cambridge. Jeff Keating, Managing Editor in Radio & News raves, “They make a lobster salad sandwich that is simply fantastic!”

Brooks Heckner, Director of Partner Services in Local Development & Marketing calls it his go-to spot for lobster. “The place itself is operated basically out of what looks like someone’s garage in Cambridgeport, so you order inside and then eat at picnic tables on the driveway. It has a very old-school neighborhood feel that you don’t get at a standard brick and mortar restaurant. The lobster sandwich is awesome,” he continues. “It’s not a typical lobster roll, as it’s not served on the split roll, but comes on buttered white toast; it’s delicious!”

Senior Traffic Manager in Local Corporate Sponsorship, Stephanie Saltzman, agrees. “It is a very authentic and charming neighborhood spot,” she says, “with kitschy lobster décor and picnic tables. This is a small local operation run out of a repurposed garage in the Cambridgeport neighborhood. They do a twist on the classic lobster roll by serving it on toasted scali bread in more of a sandwich style. They also offer full cooked lobsters, steamers, mussels, chowder, and more! Plus, there’s fresh fish you can buy to take home and cook later.”

269 Putnam Ave., Cambridge, 617-876-0451 aliveandkickinglobsters.com

(left): From Plum Island Grille: Grilled Swordfish over an Organic Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Rice (right): Pasta, Pizza and Paella at Sophia's Grotto
(left): From Plum Island Grille: Grilled Swordfish over an Organic Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Rice (right): Pasta, Pizza and Paella at Sophia's Grotto
(left): Courtesy of Plum Island Grille (right): Courtesy of Sophia's Grotto

Plum Island Grill & Sophia's Grotto

Audio Mixer and Sound Designer, Christopher D. Anderson, has a lot of experience in the seafood arena, and admits, “Ok, so I'm a total lobster snob–I put myself through college working as a sternman on a lobster boat in Harpswell, Maine for four summers on a 38' beast of a boat, the "Dirty Sally", hauling 600 traps a day, 6 days a week. I got my fill of lobster those years, needless to say; it took me years to come back around to seeking it out again. My favorite lobster places, therefore, aren't in MA, but in ME. In Massachusetts, however, I love the Plum Island Grille after a day of surfcasting or beaching. PEI mussels in white wine sauce, the swordfish sandwich, and fish & chips are all awesome, as are the crab and lobster rolls.”

“We are also on a quest for the perfect fried calamari; it's so easy to get wrong and so hard to get right. I've had countless plates of fried bouncy rubber bands, pretending to be calamari. I have found a consistent winner at Sophia's Grotto in Roslindale. Perfect and tender, with a spicy mayo for dipping, it's on the appetizer menu, but could easily be your entree. It's in our neighborhood, and a quick fix for weeknight seafood hankerings when we don't have time to make a longer trip!”

“I'm still going to Maine for my lobster, though." Christopher adds. "Or importing Maine lobster to steam myself at home in Boston!”

Plum Island Grille - 2035, 2 Plum Island Turnpike, Newbury, 978-463-2290, plumislandgrille.com/
Sophia’s Grotto - 22 Birch St., Roslindale, 617-323-4595, sophiasgrotto.com

(left): Fried Onion Rings and Fried Clams at Belle Isle Seafood (right): Anthony Bourdain outside Belle Isle Seafood, in Winthrop
(left): Fried Onion Rings and Fried Clams at Belle Isle Seafood (right): Anthony Bourdain outside Belle Isle Seafood, in Winthrop
Courtesy Belle Isle Seafood

Belle Isle Seafood

Bill Pimentel is a Senior Representative for Audience & Member Services in Local Development & Marketing. He claims “The best 'lobstah' in the world is right in my hometown of Winthrop. Sitting on the patio of Belle Isle Seafood, with one of the best views of the Boston skyline around, lobster roll in hand (to mouth!), and the summer sun shining...well, sublime is an understatement!”

Emily Tingle, Sales Operations Supervisor for the Sponsorship Group, also recommends Belle Isle Seafood for what she calls a no-nonsense seafood supper. “It’s cash only," she says, “and there’s no table service, but the views are great, and the food is delicious and plentiful. It’s also less than a mile from the blue line, so you can take a post-lobster roll walk along the Bayswater Street Park on your way back to the station.”

If you need more proof that Belle Isle Seafood is worth a visit, it was the first place that the late great Anthony Bourdain went when he visited Boston.

1 Main St., Winthrop, 617-567-1619, facebook.com/Belle-Isle-Seafood

(left): Crispy Sea Bass, Garden Herb Cous-cous, Preserved Lemon Dressing (right): Sushi Plate at Turk's Seafood
(left): Crispy Sea Bass, Garden Herb Cous-cous, Preserved Lemon Dressing (right): Sushi Plate at Turk's Seafood
Courtesy of Turk's Seafood

Turk’s Seafood

Technology Specialist, Sam Stone’s pick for best seafood is Turk’s Seafood in Mattapoisett. “It’s hands-down the best fish around!” he exclaims. “Over the years they’ve expanded,” he continues, “and in addition to a fish market with fresh fish & shellfish from the New Bedford fishing industry, they’ve got a sushi bar and a family-style clam-shack restaurant. It’s gotten so popular over the years that they’re open nearly year-round, and even require a police presence on the road to direct traffic.”

83 Marion Rd., Mattapoisett, 508-758-3117, turksseafood.com

(left): Tinned Fish at Saltie Girl (right): Saltie Girl takes Clam Chowder to a new level.
(left): Tinned Fish at Saltie Girl (right): Saltie Girl takes Clam Chowder to a new level.
Courtesy of Saltie Girl

Saltie Girl

Director of Social Media, Tory Starr says Saltie Girl in Boston’s Back Bay is amazing. “When I first heard of a restaurant in Back Bay that specialized in “tinned fish,” she concedes, “I wasn’t in any rush to get there. But after the tenth friend said it was their new favorite spot, I had to try it out. Saltie Girl is tucked around the corner of Newbury Street, and you almost have to plan it alongside a jaunt around town: the restaurant doesn’t take reservations and there is almost always a wait.”

“Once you’re settled at one of the few tables, however, the wait is immediately worth it. I would argue that the crudo and cocktails are as much headliners as the tinned fish, which you load up with thick bread and salt butter. The Saltie Girl burger is not to miss, either – topped with fried lobster and pork belly, this one isn’t easy to split but worth every messy bite.”

281 Dartmouth St., Boston, 617-267-0691, saltiegirl.com

(left): Crispy Fried Shrimp on the beach at Castle Island (right): Lobster Roll and Fries from Sullivan's
(left): Crispy Fried Shrimp on the beach at Castle Island (right): Lobster Roll and Fries from Sullivan's
Courtesy of Sullivan's

Sullivan’s

Louise Flannery, a Digital Associate Producer in Children's Media votes for Sullivan’s at Castle Island. “I like chowing down on Sullivan’s delicious and wallet-friendly lobster rolls and fried shrimp up on the grassy Castle Island park. From there, I can watch the kite gliders doing tricks and all the people enjoying the various sights of the area. It’s a great spot to relax and soak up the summer, especially if I can find space under a big tree for shade!”

2080 William J Day Blvd., South Boston, 617-268-5685, sullivanscastleisland.com

(left): A Woodman's spread (right): The exterior of Woodman's in Essex
(left): A Woodman's spread (right): The exterior of Woodman's in Essex
Courtesy of Woodman's

Woodman’s of Essex

Anne Adams, Senior Program Producer for Studio Six, thinks that the best lobster can be found at Woodman's in Essex. “Woodmans has THE best lobster roll and the best onion rings too. People rave about their fried clams too, though I can’t vouch for them as I don’t eat them.”

Elizabeth Walbridge, a Digital Production Coordinator in Children’s Media, is also a huge Woodman's fan. “Boy, do I love going to Woodman’s for lobster. It’s a tradition now to swim at Crane’s Beach and then go to Woodman’s of Essex for the ceremonial first lobster of the year. Don’t bother standing in line if all you want is a boiled lobster and a beer. The line (which usually goes quite quickly but is WAY too long) is just for everything else: fried clams, steamers, coleslaw, corn, etc. There’s also a nice bar across the street where you might wait out the line and enjoy the view. Can’t be beat!” She adds, “I was just there just the other day, and saw a 12 lb, $200 lobster. He was enormous!”

121 Main St., Essex, 978-768-2559, woodmans.com

(left): Fried and Gluten-Free at Chatham Fish & Lobster (right): Grilled Swordshish Kabobs at Chatham Fish & Lobster

(left): Gluten-Free Fried Seafood at Chatham Fish & Lobster (right): Grilled Swordshish Kabobs at Chatham Fish & Lobster
(left): Gluten-Free Fried Seafood at Chatham Fish & Lobster (right): Grilled Swordshish Kabobs at Chatham Fish & Lobster
Courtesy of Chatham Fish & Lobster

Chatham Fish and Lobster

If she’s on the Cape, Senior Digital Content Producer Barrett Brountas knows that Chatham Fish and Lobster will get a thumbs-up from the whole family. She says, “Whenever we're in Chatham, and craving a meal that's all one color and that color is "fried", we get fresh and delicious, and—crucial for a member of our family with celiac disease, gluten free—fish and chips from Chatham Fish and Lobster. Their batter and all their deep frying are gluten-free, so there's no risk of cross-contamination in their fish, French fries, onion rings, clams, and more. It's primarily a fish market and kitchen where you can also pick up sides and desserts to bring home with your lobster, but there are a few booths inside and picnic tables outside to enjoy a lobster roll overflowing with the good stuff, a blackened swordfish sandwich, clam chowder, or the aforementioned classic fried food platter.”

Cornfield Marketplace, 1291 Main St., Route 28 Chatham, 508-945-1178, chathamfishandlobster.com

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